The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett is a 600-page epic about a small town trying to create a better church, while struggling to adapt to the ever-changing world around it. This book is quite a page-turner, thanks to Follett’s detailed portrait of the era, excellent storytelling, and dramatic and exciting action.
When the story begins, Tom Builder, a master builder, was seeking work so he and his family would not starve. They ended up in Kingsbridge where he found work at the priory rebuilding the church. Meanwhile, William Hamleigh, one of the novel’s primary antagonists, and his mother were trying to gain earldom over William’s ex-fiancée Aliena. A tragic series of events led Aliena and her brother to Kingsbridge, where she met Tom and his adopted son Jack. As first Tom, and then Jack, worked on the building of the church, it grew to symbolize the tension between characters as well as the town becoming united, stronger, and bigger.
As each character’s story was developed, it was incorporated into the main narrative, leading to a multi-character climax in which even the distant back-stories played a vital role. As the book comes to a close, the cathedral is completed and all of the characters get the ending they have earned.
The Pillars of the Earth is a remarkable story that is well worth reading.